Weekly Memo 5-17-13

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.


Labor Update
There are two labor agreements on next week’s Council agenda. That brings the total to three settled contracts out of five. The remaining groups – Public Works and Fire Fighters – currently have final offers from the City. The proposals are virtually identical to those offered to the groups that have settled.

Thank you
Thanks again to the Mayor, Council, and staff of the City of East Grand Forks. The last five years has been a rewarding, enlightening, and humbling experience. It is hard to pry myself out of my office, as I type this at 12:37 pm on my final day in the office. My last official day is May 31. I will be in touch with the City remotely for at least that long for any outstanding issues to be addressed.


Fire Department, Chief Gary Larson
We are back to normal staffing with the water receding.

We are using a MN Training grant to purchase books to start a program in the Fire Dept. that will get our fulltime firefighter certified in Fire Instructor, Fire Inspector, and Fire Officer. We hope to put this program in our training portal so our personnel can complete this study program on nights and weekends.

I have been attending 800 MGZ radio meeting in Polk County. Polk County is going to change over to using 800MHZ. We were able to get 2 – 800 portable radios on a grant. It is a good system, but very expensive to change over. It also causes problem with people we work with on the North Dakota side of the river. I will keep you updated on progress.

We are at 307 calls for 2013.

Good news, we were notified by Senator Franken’s office that we were awarded the Aid to Firefighter Grant from FEMA. This grant is worth $123,990 and will purchase all new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus. It is great timing because the tanks have a 15 year shelf life, and the ones we have are going out of service next year. The city’s share on this grant is $.05 on the dollar with the total cost to the city at $6199. I will forward a RCA for council approval.

Library Director, Charlotte Helgeson
The Library is accepting registrations for the Celebrating Summer the children’s program. The interest is high. We also have the Reading Passport enrollment for K-8th grade co-sponsored with the Optimist Club. A Reading Passport is setup to help children keep track of how many minutes are read throughout the summer and receive prizes for reading.

Braun Intertec will be returning to the Library to do a deeper investigation of the roof cavity to determine actions in correcting the remaining difficulties with the roof repair. This continuing investigation will not incur any expense to the city.

Agenda Items:
The consent agenda consists of the Transit Title VI Plan and Liquor License renewals.

Item 11 considers approving the plans and specs and ordering for bids for the repair work needed on the Police Department Building.

Item 12 considers awarding the 2013 manhole and catch basin job to H&S Construction for up to $30,000.00 in repairs.

Item 13 considers the purchase of a new 72 inch deck mower for $24,915.10 which includes a deduction of $2,000.00 for a 1991 Toro GM345 mower.

Item 14 considers purchasing a planter to put at the city lot next to the VFW building for a cost up to $15,000.00.

Item 15 and 16 considers approving the labor agreement and memorandum of understanding between the city and the Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc Local 152.

Item 17 considers approving the labor agreement between the city and AFSCME Council 65.

Weekly Memo 5-10-13

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.


Legislative Update

There was relatively little final action on key legislation items that affect cities. There was plenty of debate, however. The tax conference committee is discussing several items including the question of whether or not to include inflationary adjustments in the new LGA formula. The Senate effectively killed any hope to increase or revise transportation funding. The Senate opted instead for a “lights on” bill that will simply keep existing funding in place. The opposition to a new bill derived primarily from Governor Dayton’s opposition to any new motor fuel taxes. The Legacy committees most likely will retain the existing 20 percent funding designation for Greater Minnesota.

Labor Update

Four of the five labor groups have approved labor agreement language before them. The City Council will consider the final agreements when executed. The agreements generally call for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 1.5 percent and an overall 10 percent increase to the City’s health insurance contribution in exchange for concessions on leave benefits and the adoption of the updated citywide pay plan. This is the first proposed COLA for the City since 2009. The financial impact to the City, including pay steps, will be presented to the City Council following the final City Council action on the agreements. The 2013 Adopted Budget assumed no increase.


Public Works, Jason Stordahl

Flood:  The river level as of 6:45am 5/10/2013 was 33.7 feet, and steadily dropping.   We opened the 4th street underpass and Hill street underpass Thursday.  There are currently no streets closed due to flooding activity.

Stormwater/Wastewater:  Staff has been monitoring river levels and deactivating lifts as necessary.

Streets:  Street sweeping continues and we are starting to make good headway cleaning up the past winter debris.


Hazardous Waste and Electronic Drop Off Day is this Saturday, May 11th,  from 9am-3pm.  Staff has been preparing the drop off site, and other related things for the event.

Spring Clean Up will be next week May 13th-May 17th.  Please have all items you wish to have picked up set out by your curbside by 7:00 am on your regularly schedule refuse collection day.

Parks and Recreation, Dave Aker

Arbor Day

Arbor Day is Thursday, May 16 beginning at 12:00 pm at LaFave Park, between the Louie Murray Bridge and the softball field.  We are planting six autumn maples along the bike trail.  Pat Sweeney is the guest speaker and the fourth grade class from Sacred Heart are the special guests.  The plan is to plant 92 trees sometime this spring down in LaFave Park.

Police Department, Chief Mike Hedlund

EGFPD Hires New Officer

The EGFPD recently hired a new police officer, Justin Kitzberger.  Justin is a graduate of Mankato State University with a degree in Criminal Justice and is originally from New Ulm but has family in this area.  Justin has started his training program and will work on each of the Department’s four shifts and in Investigations before he is given his permanent assignment.

Library Director, Charlotte Helgeson

Anita Poss, Program Coordinator, has submitted her resignation effective July 31, 2013. Anita held the position for 22 years at 26 hours per week.  She was 2011 Arts Advocate of the Year for Northwest Minnesota and has established the East Grand Forks Campbell Library as a cultural center for our region. Many of the children in our area know her as Miss Anita from story time.  Many regional artists have expressed their thanks at being able to display their art work in a public space in many cases for the first time.  Throughout the school year, the library holds contests for art and writing at different grade levels along with adult writers and photography contests.  Anita’s enthusiasm and creativity will be deeply missed at our library.

Based on program attendance and vitality of the library’s current programming, the Library Board has decided to change the Program Coordinator position to full time.  To keep this within the 2013 budget, the Volunteer Coordinator position will be reduced to 26 hours.  To balance staffing, the Board and Director took into consideration not only attendance at activities, but also technical services such as software support, e-lending and our website along with public relations, circulation of materials, open hours and general maintenance of the building.  The change will take place September 1, 2013.

Agenda Items:

  1. The City Engineer will present plans and specifications for the proposed Police Department Headquarters renovation. If approved, the bid letting will be in mid-June.
  2. The Parks and Recreation Superintendent will discuss a proposal to establish a community garden in East Grand Forks.
  3. The Library Director will discuss a proposed library reorganization as recommended by the Library Board. The reorganization includes increasing the program coordinator to a full-time position, reducing the volunteer coordinator position to part-time, and increasing the libraries technical resources in staffing and purchases. The proposal was included in the 2013 Adopted Budget.
  4. The City Planner will present the City’s proposed Title VI Plan for Transit operations. Generally, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requires grant recipients to adopt a non-discrimination plan under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
  5. The Public Works Director will present proposals of current road conditions in anticipation of the summer street maintenance season.
  6. The Public Works Director also will provide quotations for summer catch basin repair.
  7. The Public Works Director will provide quotation from the state cooperative purchasing venture for a budgeted 72-inch deck mower.
  8. Council Member Grassel will update the City Council on the Cemetery Commission proceedings.

Weekly Memo 5-3-2013

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.


Labor Update

The City has reached tentative agreements with all of the bargaining units. Two groups – Water and Light Teamsters and Law Enforcement Labor Services – have formally ratified the agreements. The Water and Light Commission approved its labor agreement on Thursday evening. We are hammering through minor details on the other groups. I expect formal ratification soon. The remaining agreements will appear before the Council when they are signed and returned to the City.

Legislative update

The final House environment and natural resources bill contains increased water appropriation fees for most water uses, including municipal water. The final bill going to conference committee generates slightly less revenue than the original version, and it is not expected to change in the conference committee. The new fee would be $15 per million gallons per day for municipal uses. http://www.lmc.org/page/1/waterfeesbulletin.jsp

Both chambers have approved omnibus tax bills with some key differences that will be decided in conference committee. The primary differences include sales tax exemptions for cities, inflation adjustments to Local Government Aid (LGA), and general fund increases to police and fire pensions. Both versions include the new LGA formula with an $80 million total funding increase. http://lmc.org/page/1/full-sen-approves-omni-tax-bill.jsp


Library, Charlotte Helgeson

The Friends of the Library Book Sale is being held Friday and Saturday from 8-5.
Braun has submitted a report on their most recent investigation of the library roof. The report is available at the library. Braun will return to look further into the repair work completed this past fall. This review is at no additional cost to the city.

Public Works, Jason Stordahl

Flood: It appears that the river level has peaked and is on its way back down. We removed both of the invisible flood walls downtown this week. Plans are to remove the barricades on 17th ST. NW and 12th Ave. NW Friday morning if river levels allow. We hope to see the water steadily recede this weekend, and sometime next week reopen the 4th ST. NW underpass.

Stormwater: Staff started to deactivate lift stations, and will continue to do so as the river retreats.

Streets: We started street sweeping this week. There is a lot of debris on the streets after the long winter; it will take some time to cover the entire town the first run through.

Fire Department, Chief Gary Larson

Flood walls are down and things are getting back to normal. We are still staffing one additional person on the Point until the rail underpass is open. We are close to opening the on ramp on the north side of Hwy 2.

We have completed the painting the walls and installing a new tile floor in Station One. It needed a freshening up and looks good.

While we have additional people at Station 2 we hope to get some maintenance done on the garage. It is looking pretty run down.

We have acquired a house to do a house burn. We are in the process of having asbestos inspection done and filing the needed paper work with MPCA and the DNR. We hope to train in the house for 2 months and burn it in September.

We are putting on a First Responder medical class at the Fire Dept now. All new Paid on Call firefighter and anyone else that did not have a minimum of First Responder will complete the class.

Police Department, Chief Mike Hedlund

EGFPD Officer Honored by Optimists Club

Officer Alex Schilke of the EGFPD was selected to receive an award from the Optimists Club for his work with local youth. The Optimists annually recognize area law enforcement officers during a “Respect for Law” luncheon. The award recipients are chosen for exemplifying the Optimists Creed and for being a “friend of youth”. Officer Schilke recently took part in training to become an instructor in the Department’s “Responsible Beverage Server Training” program. This program involves officers providing instruction to local alcoholic beverage employees on how to recognize fake ID’s and other methods that are designed to minimize the chances of underage persons acquiring alcohol. Officer Schilke is also the Department’s advisor for the local Explorer Scout Program.

Agenda Items:

The consent agenda contains the City’s annual resolution to act as a legal sponsor for a snowmobile trail maintenance grant from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The City passes through the grant funds to the Red River Snowmobile Club provided the trails are properly groomed.

The Council will consider for second reading two ordinances relating to amending the City’s ordinances regarding Sexually Oriented Businesses.

Item 14 considers approving the revised arena rental fee structure. The simplified structure roughly places categories into for-profit events and non-profit events for rental fees.

Item 15 is a resolution opposing new phosphorus restrictions in the Red River basin. The resolution generally supports the City of Moorhead’s contention that there is no empirical evidence to support MPCA’s proposed 1.0 milligram per liter (mg/L) limit on phosphorus discharge for municipal treatment facilities.

Item 16 is a catch up motion to formally approve ordinance summaries of recently-passed ordinances for formal publication in the official newspaper.

Resignation letter

April 29, 2013

Mayor and City Council,

I am submitting to you my resignation as City Administrator. I have accepted a new position as Budget Officer of the City of Kansas City, Missouri, tentatively to begin at the end of May pending final preparations.

It has been a great pleasure serving the City of East Grand Forks since 2008. The experience I have gained here has been invaluable. I treasure the relationships that we have built. And, I am proud of the accomplishments to which we have worked hard for nearly five years. We have greatly increased the City’s communication and interaction with the public and with the media. We have streamlined services and kept levies and budgets in line despite continued state aid cuts. We have reinvested in capital and maintenance that was largely neglected during periods of uncertainty. We have forged sustainable agreements with bargaining groups. And, we have endured through flood events in four of the five springs during which I have been in East Grand Forks.

I was blessed to choose between two exciting positions each in cities that I love. My decision was arduous. And, with my family, we put a great deal of careful consideration and planning into this move.

My last day in the office is tentatively scheduled for May 17, 2013. I will be available as much as possible through the end of May.

Once again, I thank the Mayor and City Council, and the people of East Grand Forks, for entrusting me to serve you. The City Council took a chance on a relative newcomer nearly five years ago. I am grateful for that trust. And, I hope that my service and accomplishments have returned your investment in that trust. I will always hold East Grand Forks close to my heart. And, I look forward to a prosperous future for the City.


Scott Huizenga
City Administrator

Weekly Memo 4-26-2013

The Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.


Flood Update

City Crews completed the boardwalk “invisible” flood wall in one day on Thursday. Crews continue to work downtown on the south side of the DeMers Avenue along the Cabela’s parking lot. Emergency Management will monitor the river’s rise this weekend. The City may begin to close some roads this weekend depending on the river height. The Gateway Drive underpass at 4th Street generally is the first road to be closed during high water events.

Labor Update

The City reached a tentative agreement with Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) at the last negotiation session on Monday. The City now has tentative agreements with four of the five city bargaining groups for 2013. The City will consider the agreements after the groups formally ratify the tentative agreements.

Police Headquarters

The Police Chief, Police Lieutenant, and I met with the city’s architectural consultant to view plans and renderings for the approved Police Headquarters renovation. The staff consensus is that the rendering looks beautiful. The project will address several structural defects including wall and roof barrier issues. The building will create a distinctive, lasting impression on the city municipal center (City Hall and PD) for decades to come. Council will discuss the plans and specifications at the work session of May 8th; and will formally consider filing the plans and specifications on May 14. Bid award is projected for mid-June.

Legislative Update

The tax bills were the hot items in the legislature this week. The House of Representatives passed its omnibus tax bill on a largely party line vote. The Senate passed its tax bill out of committee. The full Senate is expected to consider the bill on the floor early next week. There are significant differences between the two tax bills that the chambers will have to reconcile in conference committee.

The House version contains several new fees and taxes, including a new top tier for income taxes. For cities, the tax bill includes $1.5 million for border city credits and $80 million in additional Local Government Aid (LGA) funding. The LGA funding also includes the mutually-agreed revised formula with annual inflationary adjustments.


The Senate bill to be considered Monday also includes the new LGA formula and an increase of $80 million. But, it does not include the inflationary adjustments of the House bill.  The Senate bill includes a sales tax exemption for cities and counties.  According to the League of Minnesota Cities:

The approved (Senate) bill includes a revised property tax savings reporting requirement tied to the city/county sales tax exemption. All cities and counties would be required to submit to the county the amount of their estimated calendar year 2012 actual or estimated sales tax payments to the state. The county would compile this information and add the information for all cities and counties to the annual parcel-specific proposed tax statement mailing. In addition, each city and each county would have to discuss the estimated benefits of the sales tax exemption on their 2014 proposed budgets and fees and other budgetary impacts. The reporting requirement does not include the provision included in the original Senate division report that would have required the commissioner of revenue to recommend reinstituting levy limits if at least 75 percent of the sales tax exemption benefits did not result in a reduction in property taxes.

Finally, the Senate bill removes sales tax exemptions on clothing and personal care services such as automobile repair, hair and salon services, tattooing, piercing, and more.

The House and Senate have both advanced street improvement district legislation in close votes. The House version was included in the omnibus tax bill. The House version requires that no property pays more than twice another property. In other words, according to the League, “a business could not pay more than twice a single family home.” The House version also removes tax exempt property from street improvement districts. The Senate version has been laid over in the Senate omnibus transportation bill after surviving previous committee votes. It would allow for 20-year districts, but the authorization to establish street improvement districts would sunset in five years. The Senate version allows street improvement districts only for reconstruction, not new construction. The League has recognized that neither version is “ideal,” but League officials hope to make more progress during the conference committee process.

Garry Hadden Retirement

Garry Hadden, Arena Manager, will mark his final day with the city after over 30 years in public service. The City will hold an open house from 1:00 – 5:00 pm on Tuesday, April 30 in the training room in Garry’s honor.

Upcoming Meetings

The Community Development Office will hold a contractors’ forum on Monday evening at 6:00 pm to receive input on the building inspections process.

The Council is invited to join Garry Hadden on Tuesday afternoon to celebrate his retirement.

There is no Council meeting on Tuesday with April 30 being the 5th Tuesday of the month.


Parks and Recreation, Dave Aker

Arbor Day

Arbor Day has been moved until May 16 at 12:00 pm near the Louie Murray Bridge on the bike path.  The fourth grade class from Sacred Heart and Riverside Christian School will be there to help plant the trees.  We have six trees to plant on May 16 and then we are looking at planting 80 more trees courtesy of US Bank.

Blue Line Arena

This is the last weekend of ice at the Blue Line Arena, the Blue Line pays for the arena to keep ice until the 28th of April.  They can rent the ice out or use it anyway they what.

Pre-flood preparing

All the things that have to be taken out during the flood is done.  Benches have been taken out, signs on the bike trails, signs at the campground and water heaters from the campground.  The valves have all been switched over in the campground and Catherine has hired staff.


The Big Event, a group from UND, will be held Saturday, April 27 as planned.  We will not be able to get to everything we planned but we should be able to hit quite a bit of area.  They have over 80 students planned to come and help clean East Grand Forks.

Public Works, Jason Stordahl

Flood: This week staff has been working with the Water and Light Department assembling the downtown floodwalls.  They finished assembling the wall between Demers Ave. and Patriotism drive 4/25/2013, and will finish the wall between Demers and 3rd Ave. NW by the end of the day today (4/26/2013).

We’ve also been organizing and staging detour/road closed signage throughout the city, preparing for this year’s flood event.

Stormwater staff has been exercising storm gates and activating stormwater lift stations as the river rises.

Streets:  We have started to do some tar patching of the potholes throughout the city.  Our street sweeper has been out and about this week, with intentions of operating at full force the first part of next week.

Flood Updates

The Cities of East Grand Forks and Grand Forks are beginning their flood preparation events this week beginning Monday and Tuesday with the closure of the pedestrian bridges between East Grand Forks and Grand Forks. There are several outlets available by which one can stay up to date on flood activities.

As we are often reminded during these spring events, the Grand Cities are extremely fortunate to have certified flood protection systems in place. While we take every precaution to ensure that this year’s flooding is another “non-event,” our thoughts are also with other communities along the basin that must begin a more strenuous flood fight.

Weekly Memo 4-19-13

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.


Waste Water Treatment Update

City staff and consultants met with Cal Tininenko last Thursday to discuss alternative options for waste water treatment. Mayor Stauss received a letter dated April 10 from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) that approved the City’s adopted time line for waste water treatment improvements. The City Council adopted the time line via Resolution No. 13-03-32. The timeline includes selecting a treatment option by September 2014 and beginning construction in 2016. Finally, the City Council will discuss at next week’s work session a proposed resolution from the City of Moorhead that opposes pending phosphorus regulation proposed by MPCA. The next waste water public forum is scheduled for Monday, May 6, at 7:00 pm.

Labor Update

The Water and Light Teamsters voted to approve a new, one-year agreement with the City. Of the five city bargaining units, two have approved or tentatively agreed to new contracts. We believe the other three are close to agreement. There is one negotiation session scheduled for next week.

Bond Refinancing

The Finance Director and I met with the City’s bond consultant last week to discuss more refinancing opportunities at current favorable interest rates. We plan to propose refinancing three previous bond issues, including the 23rd Street project and two earlier special assessment bonds from 2004 and 2006. The proposed sale will be presented to the City Council on May 14. The bond sale date is proposed for mid-June.

Legislative Update

The current House tax bill includes $80 million in increased Local Government Aid funding and annual inflationary adjustments.  Previous versions in the House included $60 million in increased funding. The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and the League of Minnesota Cities had not endorsed the stripped down version. The Senate tax bill, which has not been formally released, is said to include revised public hearing process for local budgets that would replace the so-called Truth in Taxation process. The process would include two hearings – one for the preliminary levy and one for the final levy. As amendment, the first hearing would be required no later than September 30. The date was amended after many cities complained that September 1 was too early in the budget process.

The House and Senate transportation bills include authorization for local street improvement districts after a contentious committee process. The amended versions would not allow tax exempt parcels, such as churches, schools, and other non-profits, from to be included in street improvement districts.

The House passed new water fee legislation that would fund several environmental programs related to water monitoring and compliance. The fees would be passed to local water users at a rate of $15 per day per million gallons. This translates to approximately $6500 per year for East Grand Forks, which is less than $2 per year for each water user in the City.


Police Department, Chief Mike Hedlund

EGFPD Training

This week the East Grand Forks Police Department, in conjunction with Polk County Social Services, conducted in-service training on handling the placement of children who have been involved in domestic violence related situations.  These are always very sensitive situations where law enforcement needs to be looking out for the best interests of the children involved.  This training is part of a series of in-service training courses that the department conducts each year.  The majority of the courses are related to use of force and defensive tactics including firearms training, Taser training, active shooter training and hands on defensive tactics.  Other topics include basic first aid and CPR/AED.  These courses provide our officers with the basic core training areas that are required by the state.  Other training is provided through online courses that cover a variety of topics including various legal issues and hazardous materials.  Officers also attend more advanced training on other law enforcement topics at locations around our region.

Public Works, Jason Stordahl


Streets- Staff worked the first part of this week cleaning up snow from our last snow event. Due to the melting snow some alleys have standing water in them.  We are trying to address these issues the best we can.  But with frost coming out and wet conditions, we are recommending to residents that they minimize their travel in alleys until they start to dry up.

Stormwater– We have been busy opening frozen catch basins and making sure that streets are draining properly.  As with most springs, we find problems with stormwater pipes shifting, breaking, collapsing, etc.

Parks and Recreation, Dave Aker

New Park Maintenance Worker

The Parks and Recreation Department would like to welcome Chad Swendseid to our Parks and Recreation Department.  Chad will start April 29 and is ready for his new adventure in life.  He is married and has three girls and is a graduate of Grand Forks Central, welcome Chad.

Arbor Day has been moved

Arbor Day was been moved back to May 16 at La Fave Park.  We are planting six trees by the bike path which the children from Sacred Heart and Riverside Christian School will help with.  The following day we are having a big Arbor Day with people from US Bank that donated 100 trees to be planted between the river and the bike path.  We are asking anyone that wants to come and help please bring a shovel and some energy!

Pool pump

We have the pool pump in the pit and the motor is suppose to go on sometime next week.

Handicap Bathroom

The handicap bathroom over at the Senior Center is almost done.  So far it looks good!

Library, Charlotte Helgeson

The Campbell Library has celebrated National Library Week with the Spring Art Exhibit opening on Monday, free-cards for non-resident students on Wednesday evening (25 new patrons) and author William Durbin (co-sponsored by NW MN Arts Council) working with 6th graders on Thursday.  A Volunteer Recognition Gathering will take place Friday evening and Fancy Nancy Tea Parties (co-sponsored by the Red Hat Cha-Cha-Chas) will be held on Saturday.  The activities have welcomed patrons who have never been in the library before this week.

The State of America’s Libraries Report came out on April 16, 2013.  The report can be read at http://www.ala.org/news/state-americas-libraries-report-2013.

Agenda Items:

  1. The Parks and Recreation Superintendent will present an updated fee schedule recommendation for Arena Rentals. Previously, the City Council asked staff to review the fee schedule with specific attention to wedding events. The recommendation should include all types of arena rentals including newly-proposed fees for daily sports rentals such as baseball and soccer practice.
  2. The Finance Director will present the 1st Quarter Report for 2013.
  3. The City Administrator will present a proposed resolution to oppose total phosphorus (TP) regulation in the Red River basin. The City of Moorhead is requesting that basin communities support its efforts to oppose new regulation from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Municipal waste water treatment facilities, such as the city’s stabilization pond, contribute just 0.5 percent of all phosphorus into the river. Yet, the MPCA is proposing stringent new regulations on cities while doing nothing to regulate uncontrolled (non-point) discharges from agriculture and other unregulated activities.
  4. Council Vice President Leigh will update the City Council on the Senior Citizens board activities.
  5. Council Member Tweten will update the City Council on Water and Light Commission activities.

Weekly Memo 4-12-13

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.


Fire fighters to manage Catfish Days

As widely reported this week the East Grand Forks Local 3423 if the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has agreed to administer Catfish Days beginning this summer. The event suffered from a high water cancellation in 2011, and competing tournaments have made recruitment more difficult. The Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce had contemplated ending its participation for the past several years. Therefore, the fire fighters stepped forward to make Catfish Days a “true east side event.”

Legislative Update

A couple of new items affecting cities have appeared before the House and Senate Tax Committees this week. Senator Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook) and Rep. Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis) have each introduced bills that would repeal the current tax notification process commonly known as “Truth in Taxation” (TNT) statements and hearings. In its place, the proposals would require all cities to hold two levy and budget hearings – one before the preliminary levy is approved, and one before the final levy is approved. Anecdotally, I have seen most cities oppose these proposals based on what we know currently. The bills would require Cities to hold the first hearing prior to September 1. This would add an additional hearing to the process. Further, it would expand an already long and protracted budget process for cities that currently must file preliminary levies by September 15. Supporters have claimed that the new proposal would reduce costs associated with TNT hearings by one third. Most cities have struggled to determine where the costs of TNT hearings derive, much less any hypothetical savings.

The legislature also began debating measures that would exempt cities from paying sales tax on purchases. Cities and counties have been required to pay sales tax since 1992, when the state and cities agreed to the compromise in exchange for maintaining Local Government Aid (LGA) funding. Since then, the state has cut LGA funding several times. The current Senate proposal would exempt cities from sales tax, and it also would reimpose levy limits if local property levies statewide do not decrease by at least 75 percent of the projected sales tax savings.

Labor Negotiations

The City has three more negotiation sessions tentatively scheduled in the next two weeks. Most of the parties agree that significant progress has been made in the discussions, and the remaining items are down to one or two outstanding issues in each contract.


Library, Charlotte Helgeson

Next week beginning April 15 the Campbell Library will celebrate National Library Week. The library will host several events including the Spring Art Exhibit opening, the volunteer recognition program, and several events for children and adults. The schedule of events for the week is attached to this memo.

Parks and Recreation, Dave Aker


So far this week we have taken the hot water heaters out of the bathrooms and bath house in the campground.  We took signs and benches out that could be affected by the flood.  We have a 1,000 sandbags available for the flood which our guys did.  We have been taking snow off Stauss Park with the snow blower and the parking lot.


Monday, Catherine and I went to Bemidji to pick up the truck and State passes.  We also picked up two of the panels that go on the kiosk down in the State Park.  We are taking applications for the campground until Monday and then we have interviews for the positions that are available.


Police Department, Chief Mike Hedlund

Bike Patrol

Thanks to a number of generous donations from businesses within our community the EGFPD will soon have a bicycle patrol in place to help us effectively respond to crime problems and to enhance our community relations.  Sgt. Michelle Manias, an avid biker, has been selected to coordinate the team and four additional officers have been selected for the team.  Equipment and uniforms have been ordered and the bike patrol officers will be attending training in the near future.  The bike patrol officers will spend time on patrol throughout the city with an emphasis on the bike paths and park areas.   Bike patrol officers will also be used during special events such as the 4th of July festivities.

Agenda Items:

Item 5 considers approving the recruitment and hiring of two Parks Maintenance Workers. The additional workers will be funded by reorganizing the functions of one vacant Arena Manager position and multiple seasonal arena operator positions into two full time positions. The Parks and Recreation reorganization will benefit the community in several ways without additional cost. First, the city arenas will have full-time staffing on at least five days a week, including weekends, for all business hours, including evenings. Also, summer full-time staffing will increase from one Parks Foreman to the Parks Foreman plus three full-time parks maintenance workers. Both the city parks and indoor facilities will receive much more attention for the same cost.

Item 7 considers a resolution to support the City’s project application to the state Corridor Investment Management Strategy (CIMS) program. The City’s application would target Highway 220 (Central Avenue) to include upgrades to traffic signaling, bike and pedestrian trail expansions, one lane expansion, and various street scaping. The city match on the estimated $2.1 million project would be 10 percent, or approximately $210,000.

Items 8 and 9 both relate to the City’s adult use ordinance. The first ordinance repeals the City’s existing definitions of an adult use. And, the second ordinance issues a moratorium on adult uses for six months. The moratorium allows the City to study the issue and to consider a new ordinance that more clearly defines “adult use.”

Weekly Memo 4-5-2013

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.


Legislative Update

The Legislature returned from its annual spring recess this week. The House Tax Committee reviewed HF 1608 on Local Government Aid (LGA) reform. The House bill includes the proposed new funding formula as endorsed by several organizations including the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) and the League of Minnesota Cities. However, the House version appeared with only $60 million in new funding as opposed to the $80 million increase included in the Governor’s budget and in several legislative plans. The increase of $80 million figure was very important to reduce the impact of the new funding formula, which gradually redistributes portions of LGA to the metropolitan area. Under the current House version, East Grand Forks LGA would be $2,510,682 under the $80 million option. The $60 million option would net $2,500,752 in 2014; a difference of $9930. The current year allotment to the City is $2,471,550. Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) published an article Thursday that explains well how the LGA program remains 40 percent below its peak funding level even with the proposed increases and adjusting for inflation.

State parks and trails funding has re-emerged as an issue at the capitol. In the previous legislative session, the state opted to designate state funding based on a funding split of 40 percent to the state Department of Natural Resources, 40 percent to metro parks and trails, and 20 percent to Greater Minnesota. Greater Minnesota communities advocated for an even distribution of one third to each target. Now, the metropolitan groups are again gearing to increase their share of the overall funding by arguing that they have greater population bases. Greater Minnesota interests contend that that they already receive the smallest portion of funding. And, while the areas may be less-densely populated, Greater Minnesota parks and trails of regional and statewide appeal to visitors and tourists.


Parks and Recreation, Dave Aker


The arenas at the Civic Center and VFW have all the ice off and are shut down.  At the Civic Center we are in the process of taking the circulating pumps off and getting them repaired.  The compressor that ran by itself for part of the winter, we are going to get that one serviced.  The ice at the Blue Line Arena goes until April 28, then at the end of May we put the ice on the VFW Arena for another month.


The new pump for the swimming pool is in and we are in the process of putting it in.  The pump we had last year was taken out and delivered back to the Grand Forks Park District.  The walls in the pool have to be fixed and we are waiting for the frost to come up and see if we have anymore to do.


The circus was on April 3 at the Civic Center, each year we have the circus the Home Run Club makes 20% of the total taken in.  The money is used to pay the umpires for the Cal Ripken baseball league, both the major and minor leagues.

Police Department, Chief Mike Hedlund

Spring Flooding

Over the next several weeks the Red and Red Lake Rivers will begin to flood throughout the region.  The flood waters can be an interesting attraction and people often walk on the flood control structures in an attempt to get a better view of the river.  The City of East Grand Forks is requesting that people please stay away from the waters and off of the levee systems. Spring flood waters are very cold and move quickly.  They can be very dangerous for sight seers and also for emergency personnel that might have to respond if someone should fall in.  Please help keep this Spring a safe one and stay off of the levees and away from the rivers.  Thank you!

Traffic Safety

The thaw and freeze cycles common in our Spring weather often create slippery surfaces on our roadways.  Drivers need to be aware of this and realize that conditions can change significantly from one area to another.  Shaded areas, such as those under bridges, are often coated with ice much later in the day than streets that are open to sunshine.  Use caution and stay safe!

Public Works, Jason Stordahl


Streets/Storm Water–  Staff has nearly finished hauling away snow piles throughout the city, and is focusing more on opening catch basins to allow the remainder of the melting snow to flow.

River Forecast–  There has been no change in this week’s river level forecast.  Temperatures are forecasted to remain about the same for another week and a half.  This weather pattern is excellent for melting snow as long as it holds.

Storm Water staff has been lowering pumps at lift stations in preparation of rising river levels.  And other staff are prepared to start erecting floodwalls if need be in the coming weeks.

Fire Department, Gary Larson

The monthly training drill this month was on Incident Safety Officer. We had an instructor come in from Fargo to instruct, which was paid for by a grant from the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education. It was a very good class on keep up with safety on incidents.

The Fire Dept hosted a class on the operation of Code Red for dept heads. This program will allow the City to do reverse 911 calls to specific areas of town to alert residents of issues, such as snow removal, power outage, active shooter, haz-mat release, and other items. This is supplied by Polk County. Residents can go on Polk county website and sign up for Code Red weather alerts for free.

April 4 we responded to a fire at American Crystal in the B pulp drier. Fire was under control in short order with minimum damage.

I have attended Regional and State meetings on 2013 Flood Preparedness.

We have been dealing with warning siren problems. We hope to have them all operational this week.

Agenda Items:

  1. Council Member Leigh will discuss citizen complaints of parking issues at 4th Avenue NW near 17th Street NW. The intersection has been the focal point of several parking issues in the recent past. Residents at the nearby multi-family residential complex use both 17th Street NW and 4th Street NW. The City changed the parking ordinance in 2009 to allow parking only along the south side of 17th Street NW. The change allowed for greater snow removal capacity and better traffic flow for high school traffic, including school buses. The ordinance had the foreseeable effect of pushing some overflow parking from 17th Street NW to 4th Avenue NW. Some residents in the area would like to see parking restrictions or other alternatives to reduce street parking on 4th Avenue NW.
  2. The City Engineer will present a proposed City application for the Corridor Investment Management Strategy (CIMS) program. CIMS represents the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)’s new philosophy to highway funding that emphasizes local partnerships to employ “lower cost, high benefit investment strategies that address safety, access and mobility.” The East Grand Forks proposal would apply for several improvements along the Highway 220 (Central Avenue) corridor.  The improvements would include expanded trail access to 23rd Street NW, a traffic signal at 17th Street NW, an additional northbound lane from 20th Street-23rd Street, ADA improvements, and several street scaping and beautification improvements. The proposals all comply with the City’s adopted Central Avenue corridor plan. And, the application serves MnDOT’s interest on “high return” on investment projects that expand economic development and improve multi-modal access. The CIMS program requires a minimum 10-percent local match. The total project estimate is $2.1 million, with a local match of just over $200,000. MnDOT’s long-term plan appears to consolidate several highway funding programs into just a few that focus on its key outcomes. The City will have fewer opportunities for other types of highway funding moving forward. Staff believes that the plan’s alignment with MnDOT’s goals and with the City’s long-standing corridor strategy enhance the quality of the application.
  3. The City Attorney will review a proposed revision to the City’s adult use zoning ordinance. The current proposal abolishes the current definition of adult use. It also establishes a 60-day moratorium on any establishment of a sexually-oriented business in the City while the City studies the issue to issue revised definitions. The ordinance does not impact any existing adult uses within city limits.
  4. The Parks and Recreation Superintendent will review with the City Council the revised recommendation for Parks and Recreation arena and maintenance staffing. The proposal represents a staffing change following the pending retirement of an arena manager. The recommendation would include one remaining arena manager while converting one vacant arena manager position and several part-time positions into two full-time parks maintenance positions to provide full-time coverage at the arenas and offer additional support to park maintenance.
  5. Council President Buckalew will update the City Council on the Planning Commission activities.
  6. Council Member Vonasek will update the City Council on the Polk County Planning Board activities.